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Old 01-05-2012, 10:57 PM
 
50 posts, read 118,353 times
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With respect to Highway 145, the area from Telluride and Mountain Village south to about Rico is quite impressive. The San Miguel Mountains and Lizard Head Wilderness will be visible off to the west.

Phetaroi, you specifically asked about that portion of Highway 145 south of Placerville. From Placerville to Telluride, you will be afforded views (from the south) of the Mount Sneffels Wilderness. It is one of the smallest but most rugged wilderness areas in Colorado. At least one photographer has described Mt. Sneffels as the most photogenic mountain in all of Colorado, so you are assured an aesthetically enjoyable experience in any season. If you go there in the fall, however, you are in for a real treat. As I previously stated, James Kay, one of the foremost landscape photographers in the country, stated that, if forced to select a single area for fall foliage photography, he would choose that portion of the San Juan Mtns. located "within a 20-mile radius from Telluride" (Outdoor Photographer, October 2006, p. 63). I do not recall any portion of Highway 145 presenting the kind of white-knuckle driving previously cited with respect to the Million Dollar Highway.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 01-06-2012 at 11:03 AM.. Reason: Merged 2:1
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Old 01-06-2012, 12:23 AM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,019,284 times
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Wink CO 145 - just fine as is, too

CO 145 from Telluride to Cortez is a scenic and lovely drive, with relatively little traffic. For most of its length between these two towns it runs through mountains, although more flat between Dolores and Cortez. I believe the highest point in this stretch is at Lizard Head Pass (10,222 feet), not far south of Telluride. The most scenic portion as well possibly considered in the vicinity of Telluride, although a beautiful drive most all the way to Cortez. There are a few places where one would certainly not want to put a tire off the road, but in general it is an easier drive than between Durango and Ouray on US 550, if not as awe inspiring.

One of the benefits of this current deep recession, aside from the regrettable personal cases of hardship, has been cessation of many ill-conceived 'improvements.' Not that it was necessarily in the offing, but any 'improvements' to US 550 would certainly fall in that category. Much of this road has unfortunately already been 'improved' up to the former Purgatory Ski Area, basically the San Juan county line, and hopefully it goes no farther. Nor would it be a simple or inexpensive task.

There should still be places in Colorado and this world where one meets nature more on her terms, and US 550 is one such place. Aside from a bit of fuel, the price of admission for fabulous scenery is paying attention and remaining safely on the road. There are other routes elsewhere with wider lanes and guardrails for the risk adverse. However little would be gained, and much of the character that makes this route what it is lost if tampered with. Some things are best left as is, and alone.

For those so inclined, another lovely circle of a drive is beginning somewhere along CO 145 or US 550, and setting course for a lot of great mountain driving.
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Old 01-06-2012, 05:33 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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CO 145 is not as "breathtaking" as US 550, but one should not assume it is benign. The area around Ophir Loop has some interesting spots, and the whole route over Lizard Head is subject to severe winter and spring storms. Like US 550, there are several snowslide areas on 145 that will run regularly in the winter and spring. Dallas Divide, on CO 62 between Placerville and Ridgway can get some interesting winter weather, with blowing snow and blizzarding being an added winter feature.

As to "improving" US 550 between Ouray and Purgatory (Durango Mountain), there wouldn't be enough money in the entire CDOT budget to do it. Colorado will be lucky to even maintain the road at its current standards. In fact, Coloradans and visitors alike had better get ready to see some pretty massive deterioration of the entire Colorado highway network--there isn't enough money to even maintain what is there, much less build much of any more. Things are tight in CDOT now, but nothing like they are going to be within a few years. Just another example of how Colorado has grown, spent, and lived beyond its fiscal means.
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:49 AM
 
1,314 posts, read 1,016,372 times
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I've always thought that the improvements necessary to make 550 a reasonably safe roadway have not been done just to attract people to the area to drive the famous and scary road. It's a tourist attraction.

IMO there is no excuse for not having guardrails or other safety devices installed on that road. It's ridiculously dangerous.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:21 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzile View Post
I've always thought that the improvements necessary to make 550 a reasonably safe roadway have not been done just to attract people to the area to drive the famous and scary road. It's a tourist attraction.

IMO there is no excuse for not having guardrails or other safety devices installed on that road. It's ridiculously dangerous.
There are very sound engineering reasons and cost considerations as to why the road has been left the way it is--it has nothing to do with its reputation. If you don't like 550 the way it is, then don't drive it. Real simple.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
22,052 posts, read 10,266,157 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
There are very sound engineering reasons and cost considerations as to why the road has been left the way it is--it has nothing to do with its reputation. If you don't like 550 the way it is, then don't drive it. Real simple.
Thank you Otto. But, it's 2012, not the 1880s. There's been 130 years of technology.

There are roads here in the U.S. and Canada and Europe that are in just as precarious places as the MDH, and yet they have been engineered to be safer. Ever drive on I-70????? No one wants the mountains to be torn down for the road. But it is the major transportation route between southwestern Colorado and the rest of western Colorado. Further, it isn't the whole road that needs to be fixed. Just some sections. But that section just south of Ouray where there is NO shoulder at all beyond the white line...those kinds of places could be improved. If Otto could build the road to begin with, it can be improved with today's methods. And in regard to money being spent, I had the pleasure of driving up and over Guanella Pass this autumn. A road that gets no significant traffic...pretty much a sightseeing road. Except for a few cars and trucks to the energy and reservoir stations not far above Georgetown, virtually every car over the rest of the road was sightseeing. If we can afford those kinds of projects...where there's not a single village along the way and no need to connect north/south traffic there (unless you want to go back to the times of the silver mines), then we can afford improvements to a highway that connects cities such as Cortez, Durango, Ouray, Silverton, Montrose, Delta, and Grand Junction.

And I'd like to ask, once again, for you to use a little courtesy in your postings. None of us are saying, "If you don't like our posts, don't read or respond to them," so there's no need for you to post, "If you don't like 550 the way it is, then don't drive it." It contributes nothing positive to your posts and distracts people from considering valid points that you make. Furthermore, we could all be living back in the environs of the 1880s if everyone had that attitude about everything. Somehow I think that if the Moffat Tunnel could be built, if railroads could be built in the 1880s to some of the places they were in Colorado, if Ridge Road through RMNP could be built way back then, that today we could improve US-550.

Last edited by phetaroi; 01-07-2012 at 11:43 AM..
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
11,049 posts, read 12,398,038 times
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There's a local joke about guardrails. The tourists keep knocking them down.

Just drive safe and enjoy the scenery.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:58 PM
 
40 posts, read 89,619 times
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For the few miles of the us550 that is on the more dangerous side, my suggestion for you all would be to just GO SLOW.
I think a few parts of the highway should have a lower speed limit. Hell... make it 5mph, if that's what it will take to keep these bozos who are in such a hurry safer. Why waste millions putting in a guardrail.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:40 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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Not to put too fine a point on this, but US550 per passenger mile is actually one of the safest roads in Colorado. A lot of that is, in my opinion, a RESULT of the lack of guardrails, etc. People are less likely to "drive stupid" when they see that there is no barrier between them and obliviion if they do. The road is also intimidating enough to keep a lot of people who probably shouldn't be driving it from actually trying to do so.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:26 PM
 
50 posts, read 118,353 times
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[SIZE=3]Locals will have to correct me if my information is erroneous, but it is my understanding that portions of the Million Dollar Highway which do not have guardrails are so equipped for good reason: avalanches occur with sufficient regularity in those areas that it truly is not cost-efficient to constantly replace them.[/SIZE]
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